A few months back, feeling overwhelmed by my bursting scrap fabric bin, I decided to take on the challenge of a recycled crochet rug. A considerable portion of the scraps I used were ends of quilt binding that measured 2.5″ wide. I stuck with that approximate width throughout, treating a 2.5″ wide fabric ribbon as a strand of yarn. Each piece of fabric is joined with a sewing machine stitch, creating a continuous strip to work with. I used a single crochet stitch and a size Q (16mm) hook.
I made up the pattern as I worked, increasing stitches as needed so it would lay flat. Eventually the rug got so large and heavy that I had to sit in the middle and work while rotating around the piece.
Explaining my process will be challenging, as I relied pretty heavily on intuition, but I’ll do my best to illustrate when I decided to increase the number of stitches to keep the rug flat.
These rugs eat up fabric. The first one I made from quilting cotton weighs 17 pounds, and the fabric I used took up a 1 cubic foot bin, packed full. So, if you’re going to embark on this project, make sure you have adequate materials to work with.
Quilting cotton works great, but I’m going to walk you through my process using old clothing that’s mostly made from stretchy jersey material.
Using clothing for this project is a bit more challenging when it comes to cutting as compared with quilting scraps. The goal is to create long, 2.5″ wide strips that can be sewn together to create a long continuous strip. There are no rules when it comes to cutting, but try to create strips that are as long as possible.
In the above photo, I’ve cut the top band off a pair of yoga pants. I’m left with a continuous round loop of 2.5″ wide fabric, which I snipped on one end to open the loop into a long, flat band. I cut the pant legs lengthwise, sometimes with a rotary cutter and sometimes with scissors. Precision isn’t important here – the crochet stitch will hide a lot. As long as the material is between 2″-3″ wide, I’d use it.
When I cut this t-shirt, I cut the body of the shirt into 2.5″ wide strips, and opened each piece with one cut in the side to create long flat strips.
Joining the strips together with a machine is straightforward – be sure to backstitch and trim your threads. Join as many strips together as you want at a time – enough to get you started with crocheting.
I’m going to assume that those reading this are familiar with the basic single crochet stitch. I’m left handed, so it’s always been challenging for me to teach righties how to crochet. My photos are good for lefties, but here is a great instructional video and diagram for right handers. You’ll need to know the Chain Stitch and the Single Crochet Stitch.
Make a slip stitch to begin, and create 18 chain stitches for a medium-large rug as shown, or you can use fewer for a smaller rug.
At the end of the chain, skip one CH (chain) and SC (single crochet) in the second CH. Continue to SC (single crochet) back down the chain you just created, until you reach the loop where you started.
When you reach the end of the row, SC4 (Single Crochet 4 stitches) in the last CH (chain stitch), creating a rounded end. This will allow you to begin working in a continuous circle around the rug.
Continue to SC down the side.
As you approach the rounded ends, you’ll need to begin to SC2 in 1 SC to allow the rug to lay flat.
I’m going to attempt to demonstrate how I decide to increase (SC2 in 1), or continue straight ahead with a single SC.
In the photo above, I’m showing SC stitches along the long flat side of the rug. Notice that the SC shown makes almost a 90° angle with the stitches below it. This should be followed with SC stitches until you reach the rounded end.
Notice that the SC shown here makes an angle that is greater than 90°, indicating that it’s time to SC2 in this stitch in order to move around the curved edge.
Continue to SC2 in 1 SC around the whole end.
Once you get past the rounded end, resume the SC along the flat side.
Continue this method, (SC along the flat side, SC2 in 1 as necessary at the ends) in a continuous round. I didn’t turn at the end of each round, as many crochet patterns dictate – just continued working in the same direction around the rug.
Crochet until you run out of material or your rug is the size you desire. Tie off and weave about 6″-8″ of tail fabric into the rug.
I hope these instructions were helpful, and that you fill your home with handmade recycled rugs!!